'Most buildings in the country do not have safe escape routes due to faulty design'
Although the Rana Plaza collapse brought several changes towards implementing building safety in the country, experts at a workshop emphasized that fire escape routes remain the main design hurdle in buildings across the country.
Speakers at Lakeshore Hotel in Dhaka yesterday, made the statement at a workshop organized by Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) as part of the implementation of the Bangladesh Urban Resilience Project (URP) project. They said this in discussing disaster risks in Dhaka and how professionals in the construction industry can solve the problem of protecting Dhaka by applying quality technology.
Making a presentation, “Best Practices to Fire Risk,” Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) Professor, Maksud Helali of the department of mechanical engineering, said a building must have separate safe escape routes for smoke and fire incidents.
Most buildings in the country do not have safe escape routes due to faulty design, he added.
“We have collected data from thousands of buildings in the ready-made garment (RMG) industry. 99% of them do not have proper stairs,” the mechanical engineering professor said.
Prof Mehedi Ahmed Ansari of department of civil engineering in his presentation on “Best Practices to Mitigate Earthquake Risk” emphasized adopting practices to determine the condition of buildings after earthquakes.
He said the country has experienced six big earthquakes from 1672 to 1930. In 1762, the country witnessed an 8.5 richter scale earthquake, although the data is questioned.
At the time, Dhaka had a population of 90,000 but that has increased many fold over the last 250 years. The city only had about a hundred structures back then, whereas at present there are over 1.2million buildings.
If a similar earthquake were to hit the country now, the situation would be unimaginable, he added.
Quoting the study conducted by Buet, he said soil tests in several areas under Rajuk show a decline in soil condition, making it unsuitable for construction.
Rajuk’s Director of URP, Abdul Latif Helaly, said that in order to build a safe city, the project requires a detailed plan for the construction of buildings to make them risk-free.